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Black Lives Matter and the UN Human Rights System: Reflections on the Human Rights Council Urgent Debate

The protests against the police killings of George Floyd and many other Black people in the United States catalyzed a transnational movement. Around the world, people mobilized to express solidarity with protesters in the United States while also challenging U.S. imperialism, as well as systemic racism, colonialism, and police brutality in their own countries. The transnational dimension of this racial justice uprising was not coincidental. Rather, it reflected the transnational histories of colonialism and transatlantic slavery that shape systemic racism in law enforcement in different parts of the world, histories whose legacies continue to drive contemporary structures of racism. Through this uprising, the tireless work of Black Lives Matter movement organizers and other racial justice advocates have definitively shifted the transnational discourse surrounding race and structural inequality. Within weeks of the initial protests, a coalition of movement and NGO actors played a crucial role in forcing the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold an Urgent Debate on systemic racism in law enforcement. In the wake of…

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The Duty to Derogate: Suspending Human Rights in a Very Limited and Specific Way?

Section 12 of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill currently making its way through the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to consider derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to certain overseas military operations. The duty is the product…

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Legislating by Soundbite: The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill

The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-2021, if passed, would provide a ‘triple lock’ to render ‘exceptional’ prosecutions for criminal offences allegedly committed by the armed forces overseas (outside the UK) more than five years ago; shorten the limitation periods for actions in tort and under the…

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The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill and the Irish Sea: risks of reciprocal application to the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict

The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill (as introduced) does not apply to legacy cases from the Northern Ireland conflict. Yet against the backdrop of similar cries of ‘witch hunt’ its introduction in 18 March 2020 was concurrent and explicitly linked to a Written Ministerial Statement on the same day. Through this the Secretary…

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Occupational Hazards of Soldiers – A Critique of Section 3 of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-21

Being a soldier is not for the faint-hearted. There is no shortage of written and audio-visual accounts of the horrors of war and soldiers’ physical and psychological suffering. It becomes worse when the enemy is nowhere to be seen and yet everywhere, the environment is littered with improvised explosive devices, landmines and booby-traps, and there is no safe…

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